Here’s One Way to Get Microphones, Arduino Kits, and More Without Spending More Money

Earlier this week I logged into my Hilton Honors account to cancel a hotel room that I no longer need. After cancelling the reservation I started poking around the site looking at ways to use some of the points that I’ve accrued in the last year. That’s when I noticed that there is an option to use Hilton Honors points to pay for things on Amazon.

I already knew that I could use American Express Member Rewards points for Amazon purchases, but the Hilton Honors points option was new to me. That prompted me to dig around a bit more and see if there are other credit card and travel rewards programs that let you use points to buy things on Amazon. It turns out that Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Discover also participate in Amazon’s program to redeem rewards points to pay for purchases.

How Does It Work?

You first have to link your rewards program account to your Amazon account. Not all cards are eligible, but most consumer cards are eligible. Once you’ve linked your accounts you’ll be able to see how many points you have available to spend when you’re in the check-out process on Amazon. From there you can choose to apply all points or some points to a purchase.

During the check-out process if I have a product that costs $50 Amazon will display how many points that will cost and I can choose to apply points to the entire purchase or just part of the purchase price.

Is This a Good Deal?

The value of one rewards program point is roughly equivalent to $0.01 in an Amazon purchase. But that isn’t always the case. I’ve seen some purchases in which the rewards point was worth roughly $0.0075 and some in which it was worth $0.0125. In other words, anywhere from slightly less than a penny to a little more than a penny per point.

If you follow travel blogs or message boards like I do, you know that there are some “sweet spot” opportunities to redeem points for first class travel and expensive hotels. However, even those require a ton of points and a lot of flexibility in your schedule (something that most of us with full-time teaching jobs don’t have).

Ultimately, only you can decide if this is a good deal for you or not. I’m sitting on hundreds of thousands of points from a different few programs (spending seven years on the road as a consultant will do that to your credit card rewards balances). I was planning to use some for travel but I don’t foresee any travel in my life until at least 2021. So right now I’m getting some value by redeeming points for things that I can use now.

A Few Items to Consider

About a month ago I published a list of the products that I’m using in my remote teaching environment. In that list you’ll find my trusty Blue microphone, a ring light, and a dry erase board. All of those are attainable by redeeming a moderate amount of rewards points on Amazon.

Since I started teaching computer science classes last fall I’ve had a fair number of people ask me about the Arduino projects some of my students have done. The first projects of the year were all based on things that can be done with basic Arduino starter kits. In fact I have ten of these affordable kits in my classroom.

Finally, if you’re looking for some summer reading a few books that I have on my desktop and frequently recommend are Dan Russell’s The Joy of Search, Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, and Unfolding the Napkin by Dan Roam.

Final Thought/ Disclaimer

We all have to make the best financial decisions for our individual situations. That said, I do not recommend going out and getting a credit card just to collect points to redeem for Amazon purchases or for any other purchase. But if you already have a credit card that accrues points then redeeming those points for purchases could be a good way to get some value out of them.